I remember my first sales leadership role. I was so excited for the opportunity, and assumed that being a successful sales executive naturally meant that I would be an effective sales leader. Was I ever naïve!
There’s no substitute for being an individual contributor and living through the highs and lows of a commissioned sales rep with quota. No better way to relate than having walked in the shoes yourself.
Much of my work is focused on leadership development and executive coaching. I especially enjoy working with first time leaders. First time leaders are often placed in the role because they were top performers. However, seldom do they receive the formal coaching or mentoring required to become an effective leader. Many of the skills required to be an effective leader are quite different than those required to be a top performing individual contributor. These skills aren’t necessarily intuitive, but certainly can be learned.
Organizations are getting better at preparing their next generation of leaders. Preparation includes succession planning, defining leadership criteria, identifying future leaders and involving them in projects or situations that enhance their critical thinking, decision making and communication capability. Start the process of leadership development early so future leaders are “ready made” to assume their new role.